On-Campus Events



Campus Race to Zero Waste
January 29 - March 24, 2024
The Campus Race to Zero Waste is a friendly national competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an eight-week period in February and March, colleges report recycling, composting, and trash weights to be ranked against participating colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. For the second year in a row, Aquinas finished 7th in the Diversion category and 2nd in the Food Organics Category (smaller campus division) in 2023. 

Tip the Scale Waste Competition
January 29 – February 25, 2024
The Tip the Scale Waste Competition is a friendly competition of all buildings on campus. Aquinas faculty, staff, and students are fighting to prove that their building is THE zero waste champion to beat! There is both a student category and a faculty/staff category, with the champion in each category winning the traveling sustainability trophy. Each participating building is working to beat its average (cumulative) diversion rate to date, earning a point each week that the percentage is beaten. The building with the highest number of points at the end of the competition wins!! In the event of a tie, the building with the highest percent change receives preference.

Green Tea Talk: How do we get to collective organizing on climate justice through our First Year Seminar?
February 29, 2024; 12:30pm to 1:30pm; Albertus Hall, Rm 332

We hope you will join us for a Green Tea Talk focused on Dr. Strand’s fall semester Climate Justice Block Model Course. Led by Amy Dunham Strand, first-year students, and Jessica Eimer Bowen, this conversation will cover what we learned about climate justice, social organizing, climate solutions, and the block schedule in our First Year Seminar. Green Tea Talks are organized by the Learning Sustainability Committee, in partnership with the Center for Sustainability. Beverages will be provided. 

Fix-It Fair: Stitch it, Don’t Ditch It
March 19, 2024; 12pm to 1:30pm; Wege Ballroom
Join the Center for Sustainability and the Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center at our "Fix-It Fair: Stitch it, Don't Ditch it!” event. Skilled community members from AQ and beyond will be onsite to help students, staff, and faculty fix damaged clothing items. The event will highlight and teach basic apparel repair skills such as simple sewing, hemming, patching, and fixing buttons. Breathe life into your still-usable apparel, avoid the landfill, and promote reuse and sustainability. Stitch it, Don't Ditch it, Saints!

Green Tea Talk: Laudato Si', An Introduction and 8+ Year Reflection by Mike Ingram
April 4, 2024; 2pm-3pm; Albertus Hall, Rm 332
It's been nearly 9 years since Pope Francis published Laudato Si' On the Care for Our Common Home. Take some time out of your day to learn more about the document itself, how it was first received, its impact and implications on environmental consciousness and ethical responsibility. Plus a quick look at the Pope's most recent publication on the topic Laudate Deum, an Apostolic Exhortation To All People of Good Will on the Climate Crisis. Stay for an engaging discussion and bring your questions as we reflect on these pivotal works. Green Tea Talks are organized by the Learning Sustainability Committee, in partnership with the Center for Sustainability. Beverages will be provided.  

Fix-It Fair: AQ Bikes Edition
Date: April 16, 2024; 1pm to 3pm
Location: Wege Mall

  • Fix It: FREE inspection and basic maintenance by a local bike shop. This is the perfect opportunity to fill up your tires, adjust your seat, and inspect your brakes and gears to prepare for the summer riding season.
  • Donate It: Aquinas College is once again partnering with Upcycle Bikes, a local non-profit, that refurbishes used adult bikes and provides them to partner organizations serving refugees, shelter clients, and other community members needing an affordable and accessible transportation option. Aquinas College will be holding a bike collection for the entire month of April. Adult bikes only.
  • For the Fix-It Fair or bike donations, contact Ryan at AQbikes@aquinas.edu or call 616-632-2449. To learn more about Upcycle Bikes visit www.upcyclebikes.org. 

"We All Live Here" Service Day
April 18, 2024; Wege Mall
In celebration of Earth Day, Arbor Day and the Dominican pillars of community and service, the Aquinas College Infrastructure Sustainability Committee is proud to sponsor “We All Live Here.” Please join us in a day of service dedicated to the care of our common home on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Crews of Aquinas staff, faculty, students, and community members will complete projects at Aquinas to honor our beautiful campus. Potential activities include improving wooded paths, picking up trash, planting trees, and working in the community garden. All projects will be outside, so please dress for the weather. Register here.
- Shift 1: 10:15am to 11:45am, with registration from 9:45am to 10:15am
- Shift 2: 12:15pm to 1:45pm, with registration from 11:45am to 12:15pm

27th Annual Wege Speaker Series- How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet
April 24, 2024; Performing Arts Center (Aquinas College)
We are delighted to extend to you a warm invitation to the 27th annual Wege Speaker Series, set to take place on April 24, 2024. After five years of virtual events, we are thrilled to host the esteemed event again live at Aquinas College, and we couldn't be more excited about this year's focus on climate justice. The keynote speaker is Dr. Sarah Jaquette Ray, author, professor and chair of environmental studies at California State Polytechnic, Humboldt.

"Based on insights from her book, A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet (California, 2020), Dr. Ray will talk about the role of mindsets and emotions in leveraging political change for climate justice. Using neuroscience, social psychology and social movements, Ray will outline strategies for living with anxiety, grief and despair, but also–and crucially–engaging with joy, self-determination and pleasure." 

Please mark your calendar for April 24, 2024, and join us at Aquinas College for what promises to be an enlightening and inspiring event. Kindly register by April 17, 2024 at: aquinas.edu/wegespeaker

Off-Campus Events



Sustainability News

Midyear Update: Zero-Waste (January 2024):

Is Aquinas College a zero-waste campus? Quick answer: no. But we are making great strides toward that goal. Sustainability is integral to the mission of Aquinas College, strengthening our Dominican and Catholic traditions of being good stewards of God's gifts. The Zero Waste Initiative (minimizing and sorting waste) is a tangible way for our community to practice sustainability. And based on 2023 data, AQ's zero waste initiative is ranked 7th in the nation! Because we are halfway through the academic year, it's time to update you on our progress.

The current (average since July 1, 2023) waste diversion rate for campus is 58.6%, meaning we are keeping 58.6% of campus waste out of landfills. Last year at this time, we had a 55.3% diversion rate. While our waste diversion rate has increased this year, we are seeing much lower waste diversion rates since pre-Covid times. (For example, Aquinas boasted a 70.5% waste diversion rate in 2019.)

In comparing Fall 2023 to Fall 2022, we have much to celebrate. Many campus buildings have improved zero waste performance, including most classroom spaces, Brookby, several campus apartments, and St. Joe's. (St. Joe's diversion rate increased from 19.1% to 36.5%!) That is exceptional. 

However, we have some hard work ahead of us. Many campus buildings have falling waste diversion rates, such as the Academic Building, Browne Center, Regina Hall, Hruby Hall (residential), Fr. Bartolome Hall, and Knape Hall. Attached to this email, you will find the current performance of each of our campus buildings.

We need your help to continue to move the needle toward zero waste. Waste is significant this spring, as Aquinas will compete in the national Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition from Jan. 29 to Mar. 24. This is the competition that gives us our national rankings (7th last year). Campus buildings will also compete in an AQ competition called "Tip the Scale" from Jan. 29 to Feb. 25. Please continue to model sustainable behavior by sorting waste and encouraging students and peers to do the same. A simple reminder to a peer can encourage new (sustainable) habits.

Thanks for all you have done and continue to do to support zero waste. With your help, we will make Aquinas zero waste (and become the first college in the nation to reach that goal)! Just to remind you, weekly zero waste progress by building can always be viewed on the Sustainability Initiative website here. You are welcome to contact Jessica Eimer Bowen at eimerjes@aquinas.edu for more information on your building or to schedule a zero-waste training/refresher. Go, Saints!

Fund Your Innovative Project through the Economicology Leadership Fund (ELF)
Do you have an idea that could advance sustainability in the classroom or on campus but requires a little seed money? Apply for funding through the Economicology Leadership Fund (ELF). Administered by the Center for Sustainability, the “Economicology Leadership Fund” is a source of funding to facilitate innovative research and program development (within the lens of Economicology) at Aquinas College.  The money for this endowment was gifted from the Wege Foundation. The next deadline is February 1st. >Link

Spring 2024 Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering for the Sustainability Initiative is aligned with Aquinas College's Catholic values of Service and Care for the Earth and is an excellent way to make a difference. Here are a few upcoming opportunities:

  • Terracycle Volunteers: Keep packaging waste out of the Landfill by supporting our Terracycle program. Recycling is an important strategy for combating climate change by decreasing raw material use and avoiding landfills (a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions). According to the EPA, more than 40% of our nation's emissions result from producing, transporting, using, and disposing of material goods (EPA, 2009). Terracycle volunteers are asked to volunteer for just one hour to help us sort Terracycle waste into each waste category, such as candy wrappers and snack bags. You can sign up for Terracycle here.
  • "We All Live Here" Service Day: The "We All Live Here" Service Day is coming up on April 18th. This celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day is a campus favorite when faculty, staff, and students come together to complete projects at Aquinas and Marywood to honor our beautiful campuses. Registration will open in early March.
  • Community Garden: Volunteer opportunities for the Community Garden will begin in early April. Individuals, teams, groups, or departments can sign up to care for the garden for a one-week period this spring, summer, or fall. And we LOVE beginners! 

Laudato Si' Action Platform Update (January 2024)
Aquinas is a member of the Laudato Si' Action Platform, a community of churches, businesses, schools, and others working to develop Laudato Si’ Action Plans for our organizations. The 7-year Action Plan has a singular, critical purpose: To define concrete actions to protect our common home. We are currently developing AQ's Reflection Statement that will help inform our 7 year plan, and are excited about the possibilities of deepening our commitment to sustainability with the lens of Integral Ecology and the 7 goals of Laudato Si’. You may have noticed that Pope Francis has been traveling around campus sharing quotes from Laudato Si' to raise awareness of the initiative. He's currently with Sara Haviland. Where will he turn up next? This initiative is organized by the Center for Sustainability in partnership with an extraordinary group of students, staff, and faculty. Should you want to get involved, please contact the Center for Sustainability. >Link

AQ Food Pantry Reminder
AQ Dining Services maintains a food pantry for students facing food insecurity on campus. The pantry is next to room 359 of the Academic Building (AB) and is stocked with snacks, staples, ready meals, and even hygiene products. If you need these items, please visit the pantry and help yourself. The pantry is open during operating hours of the Academic Building, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. If it's an emergency and AB is not open, please contact Campus Safety for access.

Midyear Update: Zero-Waste (January 2023)

The current (average since July 1, 2022) diversion rate for the campus is 59.4%, meaning we are diverting 59.4% of waste from landfills. Last year at this time, we had a 58.6% diversion rate. In comparing Fall 2022 to Fall 2021, we have much to celebrate. Many campus buildings have improved zero waste performance, including all classroom spaces, Brookby, several campus apartments, and Regina Hall. Regina Hall improved its diversion rate from 24.8% to 33.7%! Fr. Bartolome increased from 16.5% to 34.9%. However, we have some hard work ahead of us. Many campus buildings have falling waste diversion rates, such as the Wege Student Center (non-dining), St. Martin de Porres Hall, Sturrus/Alksnis, Campus Safety, Meijer Hall, and the Cook Carriage House. At the end of this memo, you will find the current performance of each of our campus buildings.

Aquinas College is awarded a Bronze BFU designation
In Fall 2022, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Aquinas College with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University (BFUSM) award once again. Aquinas has held this recognition since 2015. In the most recent recognition year, Aquinas is one of 9 Michigan schools to receive this designation. Aquinas joins a cutting-edge group of colleges and universities across the United States that are transforming their campuses and the communities around them. Looking ahead, Aquinas will have access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance from the League to become even more bicycle-friendly.

2022 AQ "Tree of the Year"
The Campus Tree Advisory Committee (C-TAC) and the AQ Writing Center hosted the 2nd annual AQ “Tree of the Year” Competition in October 2022. Big or small, any tree can be the winner! This competition celebrates what brings life to our campus and air to our lungs...the trees. After giving the campus an opportunity to nominate and vote for their favorite tree, we would like to announce the winning tree which will forever be commemorated with a 2022 "Tree of the Year" plaque. The 2022 Tree of the Year is the Black Walnut, a Michigan native species submitted by Kacey C. Please join me in congratulating Kacey. The top 3 tree submissions were as follows: Black Walnut between CCH and Regina. Shumard Oak in front of St. Joe's. Red Oak at the start of the walk to St.  Joe's from Physical Plant.

2022 Friar's Challenge is a Success! 
The final results of the Friar's Challenge are in.....NO ONE BEAT THE CAMPUS FRIARS IN WILLOWBROOK! While they remain the zero waste "building to beat," we would like to congratulate Hruby Hall on coming the closest to Willowbrook's waste diversion rate. It was a very tight race! Willowbrook finished with a 74.2% diversion rate and Hruby Hall finished with a 73.7% diversion rate. Please congratulate Hruby Hall residents on a job well done. Hruby Hall will hold the traveling sustainability trophy and are invited to a barbeque with the friars. Thank you all for your hard work and participation. We would also like to congratulate RA Ethan B. on winning the RA Sustainability Education Challenge! He designed a beautiful bulletin board focused on zero waste sorting best practices. 

2021 AQ Campus Race to Zero Waste Winners
Our on-campus waste competition has come to a close and we have our winners! The full rankings can be found here. The Faculty/Staff Category winner is ... the Cook Carriage House! Congratulations to Zero Waste Advocates Mallory Miller, Ramil Collier, and all of the occupants of CCH on this victory! CCH finished the competition with four points out of a possible four points (plus a 74% diversion rate!) and will be the new holder of the Faculty/Staff Sustainability Trophy. The Student Category winner is ... Hruby Hall, with four points out of a possible four points (and an 80% diversion rate). Congratulations to all the students at Hruby Hall on this accomplishment. You will be the new holder of the Student Sustainability Trophy. We also like to recognize the building with the highest diversion rate during the AQ Race to Zero Waste. Campus Safety finished the competition with an impressive 84% diversion rate. You all are rock stars!

Aquinas College recognized as top performer in 2020 Sustainable Campus Index
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s 2020 Sustainable Campus Index lists Aquinas College as one of the top performers in the area of waste, a category that assesses waste minimization and reduction construction, waste diversion and hazardous waste management. Aquinas is the only Michigan school to be listed as a top performer in any of the index’s 17 categories. Aquinas achieved a third-place ranking in the waste category by earning 80.1%, nearly 35 percentage points above the 45.3% average score for all institutions in the category.

Aquinas featured in The Princeton Review 2021 guide to green colleges
The Princeton Review listed Aquinas College as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges in its Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition. This is the 10th time the Aquinas has made the list. The guide notes the broad range of sustainability activities at Aquinas, from its seven LEED-certified buildings and one LEED-registered building to its local food program with dining services, integration of sustainability issues into the academic curriculum, efficient and innovative changes in its physical infrastructure and campus-wide zero-waste program. Released in October, the Guide to Green Colleges profiles institutions based on a survey of administrators at 695 colleges. The publication’s editors analyze more than 25 data points in choosing the final 416 schools for the guide. Aquinas scored a 98 out of 99 in the publication’s Green Rating, a comprehensive measure of performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution.

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